I made another dress. If we need an excuse, let’s call it an Easter dress, though it wasn’t done in time for Easter, nor was it dress weather.
The pattern is Butterick 5317, which is reminiscent in silhouette to the Danielle Dress of yore. Or at least reminiscent of my version of it, which had an extra pleat in the front. Or maybe they’re only reminiscent in my head… The skirt on this one is more full (more pleats). I must admit, although this style ticks a lot of my boxes—scoop neck! Empire waist! Just-above-knee-length!—the pleats had me a bit worried. That sudden release right at the waist seamed like it would be T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Which wasn’t enough to keep me from tackling this dress ind fairly-stiff cotton sheeting and sateen. Sensible, I am not always.
There is no back seam, so I presume the pattern expects you to insert a side zip. You may presume, from my presumption, that I did not actually read the instructions. Probably this would’ve been a good idea, as it probably covered how to insert both the satisfyingly giant pockets and a side zip in the same seam. I know this can be done, but I’ve never done it, and didn’t feel up to the challenge of figuring it out myself. Or the challenge of reading, apparently. So I just made my zip really short, ending above the pocket bag, which is approximately level with the waist. This works because a) my waist is pretty big, and b) my fabrics, even the 100% cotton print, had quite a lot of give.
I do love the hem band.
I made my usual suite of alterations—shortening both the straps and between underbust and waist. The strap thing may have been unnecessary, as it’s quite high under the arm, and while the waist does sit in a good spot, the “waist” on this dress is defined much more by where you release the pleats than by the slight shaping at the side-seam. Although I do think that slight shaping is quite helpful. After an initial try-on, I lengthened the stitching on all the pleats by about 4 cm, and I like it much better where it is now. I think it contains the poof nicely. I should add before I forget that the straps sit a bit wide, and I don’t have narrow shoulders. VBS chic is a real probability.
I decided early on I wanted to line the skirt, not just the bodice. Not long after that, I realized that I would have to stitch the pleats in lining and top skirt as one, or languish in bulk forever. (Bulk at the waist is what we are trying to avoid here, peeps.) The way to do it, obviously, was to construct the cylinder of each skirt, sew them together at the hem, fold the lining to the inside, and then add the pleats. I did accomplish this, although there was definitely some head-scratching about the pockets and the zip.
I wrangled with myself about doing a swayback alteration, since there is no back seam and no waist-seam; I did in the end shave some off top and bottom at the raised waist seam, and there is very little tendency to wrinkle in the back, so I’ll call it a win, and the under-bust seam is more “level” than it would’ve been without.
Did I mention I went down a size? The pattern has a full 2″ of ease at the bust, which isn’t bad but is a touch more than I like for a fitted style. I think my down-sizing was successful in the fabrics I chose, stretch cotton sateen for the bodice and stretch poplin for the lining, but would’ve been uncomfortable in more stable fabrics. I did grade back up to a size 12 at the hips, although I suspect given the volume of the skirt in that area that it didn’t make a lick of difference.
But those really are some excellent pockets.
I must admit, I’m kinda curious what the pattern would look like in a softer, flowing fabric; the example on the envelope is very similar to mine, crisp and rather blocky. Which isn’t necessarily bad, especially with those pleats, but I think it just might be really lovely in a soft satin or something else equally evil to sew with. For now, though, I’ll just be happy if we can get weather that actually allows me to wear it outside!
(Also, I feel like I should add, the dress is navy, not black. I was attempting to kick my black-and-white-with-occasional-red kick. Probably this is futile, especially when I keep choosing colours that read as black half the time…)